Posts Tagged ‘UFC 143’
MMA DieHards Counterpunch takes on UFC 143, which takes place Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
UFC 143 features a welterweight interim championship bout between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit in the main event. Heavyweights Roy Nelson and Fabricio Werdum do battle in the co-main event, and Josh Koscheck faces Mike Pierce.
MMADieHards.com put together a team of our finest writers to bring you Counterpunch for the event. The group independently makes its selections for each fight. Minority picks will be defended by one of the panelists making that selection.
Joining us this week will be Mark Hensch, Shawn Baran, Robert G. Reynolds, Joe Rizzo and Jason Kelly.
Matt Brown, Matt Riddle, Dustin Poirier and Scott Jorgensen are not covered below, as they were unanimously selected.
Below we list the match, the fighter being defended and the author of the defence.
Dan Stittgen vs. Stephen Thompson
Defending Stittgen: Joe Rizzo
Stittgen (7-1) and Thompson (5-0) make their respective UFC debuts on the undercard, and it’s a case of a couple of unfamiliar names looking to gain a win and some notice. Stittgen has the best chance of doing it in one writer’s opinion, despite his status as a solid betting underdog. Stittgen will have a huge advantage on the ground in this fight, but getting down the kickboxing champion without getting knocked out will be the trick. If it remains standing Thomson will have his way, but this prediction says the fight — and Thomson — are going down.
Michael Kuiper vs. Rafael Natal
Defending Kuiper: Robert G. Reynolds
Meeting Kuiper for his inaugural event with the UFC will be Brazilian, Rafael Natal. Making his third appearance with the organization, Natal earned his first win in his last outing at UFC 133 over Paul Bradley.
While Natal got the win, it was not in impressive fashion and in my opinion, has yet to standout within the UFC. With the UFC restocking their shelves with new product to replace the old, Kuiper brings a style of fighting favorable with fans- he finishes them. Expect Kuiper to stop Natal midway into the first round with strikes, extending his undefeated win streak to 12.
Alex Caceres vs. Edwin Figueroa
Defending Caceres: Jason Kelly
Picking Caceres may not have been the safest bet, but he showed maturity in his last bout that gives me hope.
Caceres was a spectacle on The Ultimate Fighter 12 that was more of a sideshow than a mixed martial artist. After a UFC start that found “Bruce Leroy” 0-2, he rebounded with a decision victory against Cole Escovedo. Caceres always had the skills competent enough to compete in the Octagon, but they didn’t shine through until his most recent outing. His improvement on the ground and in the striking department since dropping to bantamweight division proved Caceres is capable of using technique to defeat tough opponents. And we can’t forget the triangle-choke the TUF 14 cast member defeated Jeff Lentz with that he is so fond of.
Figueroa is Caceres’ toughest opponent to date, but if “Bruce Leroy” continues that style of fighting that helped him defeat Escovedo, he can most definitely win a unanimous decision at UFC 143.
Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks
Defending Herman: Shawn Baran
After losing to Aaron Simpson back in 2009, Herman came back with a vengeance in 2011. With a TKO victory and a submission finish, both coming in round one and within a two month span, Herman seems to have found his form. To make things even more intriguing, the victories came against Tim Credeur and Kyle Noke, two of the tougher opponents in the middleweight division. Herman seems a little more focused now and may not be the “short fuse” that we are used to seeing. Herman’s clinch work has drastically improved, as has his ground and pound. If this fight gets to the ground, watch out.
Not taking anything away from Starks. Starks is a tough dude and he is undefeated at 8-0, but he has yet to face an opponent as dynamic as Herman. Starks is a fairly well rounded fighter, but we will have to see what he has when he is really put to the test. Starks has some good striking, but his wrestling could use some improvement. I am confident this fight will end up on the ground and Herman has the edge there. Starks will not have an answer for what Herman brings to the table. Time will tell and we will find out on Saturday night, but if I were a betting man, I would put a little money down on Herman in this one. I think Herman will be a little too much for Starks to handle.
Mike Pierce vs. Josh Koscheck
Defending Pierce: Joe Rizzo
Sleep on Pierce at your own peril. Pierce is trying to become what Koscheck already is, and this is the chance to vault into the top realm at welterweight in the UFC. Like Stittgen, Pierce is a solid underdog. When considering Koscheck’s record and reputation, the odds (Pierce is around plus-200) ought to be significantly more lopsided. Oftentimes that means Las Vegas has an inclination of something others are not seeing. Koscheck has fought higher profile names, but with the exception of his losses to Georges St-Pierre, the level of opponents is about equal. Koscheck rebounded from his injury to take on Matt Hughes on short notice and took care of the aging former champion in September, but you have to go back to the Paul Daley fight in May 2010 to find another win.
Pierce came up agonizingly short against Johny Hendricks and Jon Fitch, back when Fitch was virtually untouchable. He’ll get over the hump this time, as he is one of the few who have enough to hinder Koshcheck’s incredible wrestling.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Roy Nelson
Defending Werdum: Mark Hensch
This one will end closer that I probably expect, but I just don’t see Nelson negating the strengths Werdum brings to the Octagon. I love “Big Country” as much as the next guy, but Werdum is simply much more dangerous on the ground while still packing some serious striking power.
Nelson’s no slouch, but Werdum has convincingly beaten some bigger names too. At day’s end, not many can say they’ve defeated Alistair Overeem and both Emelianenko brothers. Once one remembers this match marks Werdum’s UFC re-debut, it seems likely he’ll win given he has something to prove.
Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz
Defending Condit: Joe Rizzo
It’s almost like there are three belts on the line here, as Condit is the WEC welterweight champion emeritus, Diaz forcibly walked away from the Strikeforce 170-pound gold and St-Pierre’s injury has left this a battle for the UFC interim welterweight title. Diaz comes in as the favorite, but has given Condit respect he does not often afford his opponents.
Anyone who thinks they know what is going to happen in this fight is misinformed. While both fighters figure to have some sort of game plan, they both have shown in their many fights that the pace will be very fast, there will be a lot of early action and neither fighter can tell you under oath whether that action will be standing or on the mat.
Perhaps Condit’s biggest strength is that he can get beaten to a pulp but goes harder and harder as fights linger on. He has enjoyed epic third-round rallies, most notably against Rory McDonald, and with this being a five-round main event, that might figure to be an advantage to the ridiculously conditioned Diaz. But it’s not just about how well you’re conditioned, it’s about how you perform in those later rounds. Both fighters have finishes littered all over their records, and this one is destined to end in one of the championship rounds, with Condit earning the belt.
UFC 143 is headlined by Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit and it takes place Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Along with Diaz and Condit meeting for the UFC interim welterweight championship will be five newcomers to the Octagon. Find out about an undefeated kickboxer, a product of Greg Jackson, a fast-rising featherweight, and a combatant also making their N. America debut in this week’s Fresh Faces.
Weight class: Welterweight
Record: 5-0 (2 (T)KO’s, 1 submission)
Recent body of work: Defeated Patrick Mandio at Fight Party: “Masquerade Fight Party” in October 2011.
Who he is: Thompson owns an impressive kickboxing record of 56-0, with 46 knockouts and 13 titles. He grew up in a family of martial artists and has trained in Kenpo Karate since the age of 3. Thompson trains with the Tristar team and Pitch Black MMA, as well as with his brother-in-law and BJJ legend Carlos Machado. Thompson is undefeated in his young MMA career, compiling a 5-0 record fighting in regional shows in his native state of South Carolina and his most recent bout in Georgia.
Weight class: Middleweight
Record: 11-0 (6 (T)KO’s, 4 submissions)
Recent body of work: Defeated Morris Cilfoni via TKO (punches) at MitC: “Milano in the Cage” in May 2011.
Who he is: Hailing from the Netherlands, Kuiper holds a black-belt in Judo and made the transition to MMA in 2009, producing a 7-0 record in his first year. Training with Gracie Barra NL, the undefeated Dutch fighter has cleared all competition he faced in Europe, finishing all but one of his opponents. Kuiper has won various titles in Belgium and was awarded “Fighter of the Year” in 2009. UFC 143 marks Kuipers’ first trip to N. America for a professional MMA bout.
Weight class: Welterweight
Record: 8-1 (2 (T)KO’s, 4 submissions)
Recent body of work: Defeated Ali Hanjani via submission (reverse triangle-choke) at JMMAS: “Jackson’s MMA Series 7” on Jan. 21.
Who he is: A product from Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts, Martinez typically fights within the lightweight division, but made a permanent switch to welterweight at the new opportunity to fight in the UFC. Martinez has also fought at featherweight, where he suffered the first and only loss of his career at Bellator 2 to Wilson Reis. Martinez has been undefeated since the slight setback, riding a four-fight win streak heading into the Octagon. Martinez’s current win streak have all end via submission, two of which in he finished in Round 1.
Weight class: Featerweight
Record: 4-0 (1 (T)KO, 0 submissions)
Recent body of work: Defeated Eddie Rincon via decision at UIC 4: “War on the Valley Isle”
Who he is: Turning professional in 2010, Holloway has compiled an unblemished 4-0 record and has rapidly advanced within the sport. Holloway was originally brought into Jeremy Stephens’ training camp to assist “Lil Heathen” prepare for Anthony “Showtime” Pettis because of the similar fighting style. In March 2011, Holloway won the X-1 lightweight championship with a split-decision victory over WEC/Strikeforce veteran Harris Sarmiento. It was only his third fight as a professional.
Weight class: Welterweight
Record: 7-1 (1 (T)KO, 5 submissions)
Recent body of work: Defeated Mark Stoddard via decision at KOTC: “Interference” in August 2011.
Who he is: Stittgen is a 31-year-old prospect fighting out of Midwest Training Center in Schaumburg, Ill. He begins his UFC career riding the momentum of a three-fight win streak and he has not been defeated since January 2010. Ironically, Stittgen was called in to replace the fighter to ever beat him, Justin Edwards.
Having connections to Carlos Machado and Chuck Norris, coupled with growing up in a family of martial artists made it inevitable that Stephen Thompson would one day make his UFC debut.
Thompson (Twitter: @WonderboyMMA) is set to make his UFC debut at UFC 143 on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Thompson’s Octagon debut will have him matched up with fellow UFC newcomer Dan Stittgen.
Thompson’s career as a professional fighter was mapped out before he began kindergarten. Submerged into martial arts from a young age, Thompson has won 13 kickboxing titles and compiled a record that consists of 56 wins and zero losses.
“I’ve been in martial arts since I was 3-years-old,” Thompson told MMA Beatdown Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “Growing up in a family of martial artists, I got two brothers and two sisters, and we all started at the age of 3. My dad owned a martial arts school in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and it’s just a lifestyle.
“I had my first fight at 15-years-old and it’s been going on since then. It just kind of added up- 56-0 with 46 knockouts.”
Thompson’s MMA career resembles his kickboxing achievements, as he is 5-0.
Even though Thompson was only competing in kickboxing tournaments prior to MMA, he had always trained as a mixed martial artist. Thompson said his base is Kenpo Karate, a form of martial arts that incorporates all disciplines, and that allowed him to learn more than just striking. It just so happened when Thompson was beginning to compete, MMA was not the global phenomenon it is today.
“We do the striking, we do the wrestling, and we do the jiu-jitsu,” Thompson explained. “It’s just that when I started fighting, kickboxing was so much bigger then, so that’s what I competed in. And you know I had my dad and my older sister who competed in kickboxing before, so they were kind of like my inspiration to start kickboxing.”
Thompson’s evolution on the ground had some doing with an extended-family member, as well.
“It helps to have a brother-in-law, Carlos Machado, who is a ninth degree black-belt in jiu-jitsu,” Thompson said. “People think all I have is striking, and that’s good, that’s what I want them to think. Carlos is the actually the oldest brother. I’ve done some work with him and Jacque (Machado).”
Training with a BJJ icon is a momentous occasion, but Thompson has also been in the presence of the man, the myth, the legend: Chuck Norris.
Thompson was victorious in the Chuck Norris World Combat League, which earned him the honor of meeting the Walker, Texas Ranger star. Thompson said he has never had the opportunity to train with Norris, nor does he want to, but the South Carolina native speaks highly of the man who’s name is synonymous with corny jokes.
“I have never sparred or grappled with Chuck Norris,” Thompson said. “I guess you have to be high on his list to actually do anything with Chuck Norris. It’s cool though, because Carlos (Machado) actually trains Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris has his black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I got to meet him there and at the World Combat League. He’s a very nice guy. I’ve got to have a chat with him and go out for dinner with him. He’s awesome.”
If not for misfortune, Thompson may have never made the crossover from kickboxing to MMA.
Thompson said he always contemplated competing in MMA, but he was having success in kickboxing and it was more popular. It wasn’t until about six years ago when he injured his left knee and was sidelined for three years that Thompson decided he would embark on a career as a mixed martial artist.
Thompson said his knee feels better than it did before the surgeries. There is evidence that he can perform in MMA bouts at a high level, given his undefeated record in the sport thus far. Now that he is out of the regional shows and on the big stage, Thompson is ecstatic to achieve a lifelong goal that was discussed over many childhood dinners.
“The UFC is it, they’re the best,” Thompson said. “Just to fight for them is an honor and a privilege. This is something I have been working for my entire life. At home, growing up, sitting at the kitchen table, that’s what we talked about. We talked about the fight sport and UFC. Now that I’m here, it’s awesome.”
UFC welterweight Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit (twitter: @CarlosCondit) has a message for every fight fan determined he’ll lose to Nick Diaz at UFC 143 on Saturday in Las Vegas – be careful who you bet on.
Interviewed Wednesday by MMA Diehards, Condit said he has more bite than bark as an underdog. Defying the odds is what he does best, he added, and come Saturday he plans on destroying Diaz.
“A big part of my career has been proving people wrong,” Condit told Darce Side Radio on the MMA Diehards Radio Network Wednesday. “I think a lot of people discount my skills or underestimate me. I use that as motivation to go out there and do my thing and show people that I’m legit.”
Condit began scrapping his way to the top in 2002. Soon fighting for World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), he battled for the league until its bitter end last year and became its final welterweight champion in the process. Now 27-5, he said there’s never been a bigger chip on his shoulder than UFC 143 and his clash with the 26-7 Diaz.
“I don’t care what the underline says,” Condit said. “I fight bell to bell. I’m a game day player. Win, lose or draw I’m going to do everything I can to leave everything in the cage.”
Despite his confidence, Condit said it’s been a rocky road getting to Diaz. Originally scheduled to face B.J. Penn at UFC 137, Condit said he traded places with Diaz to face welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre after Diaz didn’t commit to his press obligations. When GSP backed out of the bout with a knee injury anyways, Diaz and Penn were given main event status. Months later, it’s a switch that still cuts Condit deep down.
“Honestly, I would have liked to have been a little busier in 2011,” said Condit, who fought once last year against Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 132. “It was crazy the way things went but ultimately they worked out. I’ve got a great opportunity and an awesome fight set up against Diaz.”
Condit predicts his match with Diaz will steal the show on Saturday given their similar styles. He said he can go the distance on the ground against Diaz’s jiu-jitsu, and should they stand, he’s ready for Diaz’s boxing with his kickboxing technique. Given how even both men are, Condit added, the winner will be whoever finds their edge first.
“I think both of us are dangerous everywhere,” Condit said of Diaz and their bout. “Honestly, it’s more whose game and whose style are going to reign supreme whether it’s on our feet or on the ground.”
Condit remains confident that he’ll sail past Diaz this weekend en route to a title bout with GSP down the road. Addressing his critics, “The Natural Born Killer” claimed that he’ll overcome the odds at UFC 143 no matter how stacked they are against him.
“I’m one of the best fighters in the world,” Condit said. “A lot of these fights, I look at my opponent and go, ‘I have my hands full, how am I going to win this fight?’ I always seem to find a way and this fight is no different.”
Co-hosts Michael Stets and Hector Castro of MMADieHards.com bring you, The Darce Side, each week.
Joining ‘The Darce Side’ will be UFC 143 headliner Carlos Condit talking about his fight against Nick Diaz; USA Today’s Sergio Non joins us to review the UFC 143 card.
Scott Jorgensen wants the UFC bantamweight title and Dominick Cruz, regardless if “The Dominator” is champion or not.
Before Jorgensen (Twitter: @Scottjorgensen) is offered another title shot, he must defeat Renan Barao, Saturday at UFC 143 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The bantamweights will clash on the pay-per-view portion of the card that is headlined by Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight belt.
Jorgensen is focused on accomplishing a second title shot, but he is not looking past Barao. The former WEC No. 1 bantamweight contender has prepared adequately in the gym, so he can perform well and let the stat lines build from his hard work. After that, it’s the UFC’s job to figure out the big picture.
“That’s why we’re doing the sport isn’t it?,” Jorgensen said on MMA Beatdown Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “I’m fighting for that belt and Renan is definitely a road block in the way, but I’m going to take care of business on Saturday night and get a victory and worry about the future from there on. Right now records and streaks, that stuff only matters when you’re looking at the big picture to see who’s next in line, who’s getting the next title shot and who’s hot right now. I’m not too concerned about who’s record is better, who’s streak is better because come Saturday night, I know I’m ready. I put the work in and I’ll take care of business, and then I’ll let the UFC figure out who’s fighting for that belt.”
Jorgensen fought Cruz to a decision loss for the WEC bantamweight championship at WEC 53 in December 2010.
Prior to meeting Cruz, Jorgensen was on a five-fight win streak. “Young Guns” was defeating his opponents with technical skills and by intelligently engaging in battle. Jorgensen was the clear front-runner to match Cruz for the title, even though the champ opened as a favorite on the betting lines, that challenger was still considered to have a chance at winning by many people. Jorgensen credits the loss to an abandoned strategy and vows he learned from the mistake.
“You know I actually didn’t even follow my game plan” Jorgensen admitted. “I followed it through the first round; it was a much better round for me. I took him down twice, briefly. I jumped for his neck, I jumped for his back and tried a rear-naked (choke) and stuff that I wouldn’t do now. The thing that I really fell away from there was I honestly thought that I would catch him and by the end of the first round about a minute into it my coaches were yelling at me, ‘You got to finish it, you got to do something.’ That’s when it kind of sunk in, ‘Oh (expletive), I’m out of time.’ I didn’t fight that fight with the same mentality that I’ve fought with in the past or wrestled with. The work will get you a long way. I expected the win to come by some knockout or submission and I can’t fight like that, nobody can fight like that and be successful. You go out there and out-work, I was out working Ken Stone and was lucky and knocked him out. The plan from here on out for Scott Jorgensen is fight hard at my pace and push and be in there face and mix it up.”
Assisting Jorgensen in preparing for Barao were the combatants at Combat Fitness in Boise, Idaho.
Jorgensen contemplated using various training partners from outside gyms, but he has assembled a formidable team at Combat Fitness. The crew consists of a former Bellator champion; a TUF 14 cast member, and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor from Rio de Janeiro. Although, they all help Jorgensen improve in specific areas, there is one thing he is better at than anybody in the gym or his weight-class.
“I’ve got a good group of guys and I am getting better,” Jorgensen said. “I have a jiu-jitsu coach coming up from Rio, Diego Moraes. I met Johnny Bedford after the TUF show; at The Ultimate Fighter (14) finale I met him. He came up and did some training with Joe Warren and I. I’ve got a group of guys around me that push me, but the nice thing is that I got guys in every area of my gym that are better than me in some aspects at something. The one thing that nobody can keep up with is my conditioning, it is better than anybody that I will ever fight and it doesn’t matter if I do get tired because you will never know. I know that if I’m tired you are two-times tired than me and not able to function. I think that goes a long way in combat sports. I get my training with other fighters of course that are in the UFC, Bellator, things like that. But, I think just having an open mind and working my butt off is going to get me where I need to be.”
Where Jorgensen wants to be is in the title picture.
Cruz and Urijah Faber are set to meet in a title affair following The Ultimate Fighter 15, a show they will be opposing coaches on. Jorgensen’s definitive goal is attaining the UFC bantamweight championship, and it makes no difference to him whether it’s Faber or Cruz he competes against for it. However, challenging the current belt-holder would be like killing two birds with one stone.
“It really doesn’t matter,” Jorgensen said. “Whoever is holding that belt, I want to go through. I do however want to fight Dominick (Cruz) again. It’d be sweet for the belt, but if Faber ends up beating him, whatever. I don’t care who’s got the belt, but I’d like to rematch Dominick down the road.”
Last week’s show was so good with guests Mike Dolce and Sean McCorkle that we almost didn’t even bother having a show this week. Seriously. It’s gonna be hard to top. But it’s Tuesday, and that means MMA Beatdown Radio resets its weekly clock and tries to raise the bar one more time. This week on the DieHards Radio Network, Mike an Amy are joined by Brian Ebersole and, well … a superhero named “Wonderboy.”
Ebersole (49-14-1) gives the show a buzz, and we don’t mean the kind he hears while shaving his chest hair into an arrow. It took the Midwest native more than 60 fights to get to the UFC, but once he got to the Big Show he’s been all business, going 3-0 last year with a Fight of the Night bonus – and a special bonus for finishing Dennis Hallman in the first round to get his bikini trunks off the broadcast faster, Dana White said. We’ll talk to the Australia resident about what’s next for him after his win over Claude Patrick last month – and whether he thinks he can land a coaching spot on a proposed Australian edition of “The Ultimate Fighter.” And let’s be honest – the chest hair thing is probably gonna come up.
Stephen Thompson (5-0) makes his UFC debut on Saturday at UFC 143 in Las Vegas. The “Wonderboy” is going to give us an introduction about just what makes him so wonderful, and the South Carolina-based welterweight will walk us through the stellar amateur kickboxing career – reportedly 56-0 with 39 knockouts – that made him the Wonderboy he is today … a Wonderboy about to introduce himself to mainstream MMA fans against Daniel Stittgen.
The show streams live here atMMADiehards.com at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 PT. If you miss the live broadcast, well dude – chill. Take a deep breath. Relax. Everything’s gonna be all right. The show will be available on demand RIGHT HERE after the completion of the broadcast or as a download at iTunes.